26/Oct/2017

IMAP Chairman Interview with Colombia´s Leading Financial Newspaper La Republica

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​Entrepreneurs need to start looking at the region and the world as their potential
October 20th, 2017

LR spoke with Jurgis Oniunas, president of IMAP, and with Mauricio Saldarriaga, Managing Partner Inverlink.
 
Reporter: Carlos Eduardo González - cgonzalez@larepublica.com.co
 
For the first time, a South American city was selected to host the symposium on regional integration and the consolidation of multilatinas, developed by IMAP and Inverlink, which was attended by more than a hundred entrepreneurs, top executives of the most important companies in Latin America and investment bankers from more than 30 countries.  The event analyzed successful cases of multinational companies with strong presence in countries such as Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, among others, and which have led the process of internationalization of their companies in the Continent.
 
In Colombia, some of the companies that have ventured into this business model are Grupo Argos, Nutresa, ISA, EEB, Corona, Grupo Sura, EPM, Alianza Team, Bancolombia, Grupo Aval and Grupo Bolívar.  LR spoke with Jurgis Oniunas, president of IMAP, and with Mauricio Saldarriaga, Managing Partner Inverlink, who pointed out the possibilities of the country to develop its potential.
 
Why did you choose Bogota to do this event?
We have never done this event in South America. In 2007, we had the event in Mexico City, but it is the first time in the region. It is a perfect opportunity, especially for the moment of progress that Colombia has recently had in terms of better business, the fact that President Juan Manuel Santos has received the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition, the country has very dynamic companies, a dynamic economy and we are seeing a good opportunity here.
 
Although Colombia is not going through the best period...
Colombia is not the only country experiencing difficulties, the world's economic growth is slowly increasing. Likewise, Colombia is growing at levels higher than in 2007, but due to the collapse of oil prices, commodities and the re-industrialization of China, it is difficult to quickly reorient the economy. In the future, the largest investments will be in infrastructure, health, education and new investment projects in the country. The growth of multinational companies will have a great influence, because they are striving to integrate into the region, something that was not possible in the past. Many countries in Latin America are trying to organize specific alliances to create economic opportunities.
 
Another issue is that of the elections, because once the market is clearer, the attractiveness of the market will continue to be there, as the third largest population in Latin America, but the competitiveness of the country and of companies must be increased, so that not only large companies, but medium and small ones, can look beyond the local market.
 
How have you seen the expansion of Colombian companies?
In the last decades, in Latin America, the concept of multilatinas has been reinforced. When you look at the 100 largest in the region, there are around 10 Colombian companies within the main group. The companies of Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño have been very pioneering; equally, the main banks have made important acquisitions in Central America and that gives diversification to their business.  When the whole business depends on a single market, the risk can be high. Colombian companies have started to branch out, but I think the potential is still much greater and entrepreneurs have to start looking at the region and the world as their potential.
 
Which sectors do you see with the greatest investment potential in the country?
The traditional sectors are infrastructure, health, education, but Colombia has fantastic opportunities in scientific developments, emerging technologies, technologies related to artificial intelligence, new medical technologies. It should be mentioned that in the area of infrastructure the country has made large investments and, despite the difficulties, the country will have to overcome.
 
How do you see the picture in Latin America?
Latin America continues to be a very attractive developing market for companies, due to the size of the joint market that it represents as a region, but above all because of the great growth potential it offers and the growing economic capacity of its population.
 
How is the role of investment banking?
Basically the characteristics we see when we are structuring a project is that they have a certain size, a high level of complexity, which requires financial engineering and that, in many cases, the return on capital depends on the success of the project. The work of the investment bank is to structure and package the risks of a project so that it can be viable in either the financial or capital markets. 
 
What is IMAP?
IMAP It is an organization of 40 firms in 35 countries, with more than 400 professionals, that allows us to open the door to Colombian companies and entrepreneurs to either make acquisitions in foreign markets or when investors from abroad come to establish themselves in Colombia.

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